Friday, July 17, 2020

A Phony Doctor in Chicago, 1917

On July 17, 1917, 34-year-old nurse Frances Reinhardt died at Chicago's County Hospital from septic blood poisoning caused by an abortion which police said had been perpetrated by Dr. A. E. Thomas. However, further investigation revealed that a non-physician identified as W. Thomas had appropriated the name from a retired doctor.

W. Thomas had been able to practice medicine without a license for several years until his ruse was exposed after his arrest for Frances' death. The real Dr. A. E. Thomas's brother suspected that the arrested "doctor" had stolen his identity and reported this to the board of health.

The Chicago Daily Tribune notes, "Instead of being a pompous, suave, well fed and dressed charlatan like other quacks who have fallen into the meshes of the law recently, he turned out to be a shaking, wretched, and miserable victim of morphine, whose condition when he was captured bordered on hysteria." Upon arrest, Thomas admitted the ruse to police.

Though he was held by the Coroner for Frances' death, the charges were dropped for a reason I have been unable to determine. I have also found no evidence that anybody else was arrested for the crime.

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